After my cancer relapsed in the middle of 2019, I didn’t think I would live that long.
Even after a successful course of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, I couldn’t let go of a feeling in the pit of my stomach that my life had been irrevocably changed, and that the world I lived in before no longer existed.
I struggled to understand what the meaning of my life could be going forward, when I no longer believed in the security of my future and struggled to decide what I wanted to do with my career. Could I rebuild my practice again? Did I have the energy to keep seeing patients? Should I focus more on online courses? Should I quit medicine entirely and become a writer?
I wondered if perhaps all of these ideas shared a common thread, something that could guide me through the dark and carry me forward.
I also knew the purpose of my life could no longer be dependent on achieving something in the future — it had to be something I could do today.
As I reflected on all of this an insight came to me (some hallucinogens may or may not have helped me, too). The meaning of my life is this:
I am a translator.
My purpose is to take my professional knowledge and personal experience and turn it into a story — a story I can share with others, that brings them comfort in knowing they are not alone, that elevates them and helps them understand something deeper in themselves and connects them to our collective experience of being human.
After this idea came to me, I realized it didn’t matter exactly how my career unfolded, or whether I was seeing patients, or writing, or creating online courses, or even just giving advice to family and friends. It didn’t matter how I did it; it just mattered that I did it… a little bit every day.
The best thing about my purpose is that it’s something I can execute on each day. It doesn’t require achieving some external goal, or delaying my happiness, or needing to live a certain number of years (although I’m doing very well and have every confidence I’ll have more years ahead of me than behind me).
So this all brings me to your purpose, and my question for you is:
Does my story give you any ideas of how you could reframe your purpose from something that you need to achieve in the future to something you can feel good about today? Can you turn the meaning of your life into a process rather than a goal?
“What are my strengths?”
“What do I enjoy?”
And most importantly, “What makes me look back on the day and say…
“I lived today in a way that is congruent with my values.”
I believe in my heart and know from experience that there is no catastrophe so great your purpose can not carry you through it. And I would love to hear your thoughts and replies — What is your purpose? And what will you do today to live it?